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Glendale QB sues after he’s deemed ineligible, cites racial discrimination at Kickapoo



Former Kickapoo quarterback Kylan Mabins was deemed ineligible to play for Glendale after his transfer this summer. He is now asking the courts to let him play.

Mabins, a senior, has petitioned for a restraining order against the Missouri State High School Activities Association, its board of directors, Springfield Public Schools and its athletics director.

Through his petition, the senior requests for a preliminary injunction that would halt his restriction on his ability to play football.

According to the petition, a hearing was held with MSHSAA in the days before Glendale’s season-opening win over Waynesville. He did not participate in the game. Previous News-Leader reporting suggested Mabins’ eligibility at Glendale was in dispute after his departure from being the starting quarterback at Kickapoo.

About two weeks before the 2023 high school football season began, Springfield Public Schools announced Mike Mauk would no longer be Glendale’s football coach and, citing its policy regarding personnel, declined to comment. Offensive coordinator Ben Mauk is also no longer with the program. Joel Heman was named the team’s interim head coach for the 2023 season.

In the petition, Mabins alleged that while at Kickapoo, he and others saw “acts of racial discrimination” and the “creation of a hostile environment to African Americans as a race” among other allegations of misconduct by the Kickapoo coaching staff.

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Images from the Football Jamboree at Ozark featuring Ozark, Nixa, and Kickapoo High Schools on August 20, 2021

Mabins also alleged Kickapoo responded to his requested transfer by claiming it was for athletic reasons and undue influence — which he believed Kickapoo knew would trigger an automatic ineligibility ruling. In the petition, he accused Kickapoo of providing inaccurate information to investigators.

The petition also says Mabins believes there were acts of collusion between MSHSAA and Kickapoo as to his eligibility to play this season and that MSHAA “failed to conduct a good faith investigation.”

“There are several things that are concerning,” Jay Kirksey, Mabins’ attorney, said in a phone call with the News-Leader. “First and foremost, I have a young man who’s a very good young man who was put in a bad environment based on the Kickapoo Athletic Administration who made a report of racial misconduct which has been substantiated by more than one player. When he tries to get out of that obvious hardship of a circumstance, Kickapoo’s athletic administration falsely marked that his move was because of undue influence or athletic reasons. It reeks of the obvious and the law would call that retaliation.

“Another concerning thing is that SPS is supposed to have an athletic director who’s supposed to have the best interest of students at heart. You take care of the Kickapoo athletic administration but you do so to the detriment and to the harm of my client and every student-athlete who’s on the football program at Glendale. You hurt and harm all these kids. There’s conflict there. Do you act in the best interest of protecting Kickapoo’s athletic department or do you act in the best interest of the Glendale kids and athletic department? You ended up hurting the kids at Glendale.”

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Springfield Public Schools responded in a statement from Stephen Hall, the district’s spokesperson: “SPS is steadfast in our dispute of the allegations contained within the petition. SPS affirms the actions taken by the Missouri State High School Activities Association.

“We remain confident that our staff and representatives conducted themselves appropriately in this matter. In all circumstances, we focus on following MSHSAA guidelines in order to provide student-athletes and teams with every opportunity to compete at the highest levels in the regular and postseason. Certainly, that commitment has guided every action taken in this situation.”

Alleged racial discrimination by coaches at Kickapoo

The petition alleges that while at Kickapoo, Mabins, a current senior, and others saw “repeated acts of racial micro-aggressions, acts of racial discrimination, the creation of a hostile environment to African Americans as a race, homophobic statements and other misconduct by the coaches that were detrimental and harmful to Mabins and other similarly situated student-athletes at Kickapoo.”

According to the petition, Mabins and his parents made a report with SPS concerning the racial discrimination and other misconduct of the athletic staff at Kickapoo toward Mabins and other similar student-athletes in the football program. The petition says “upon information and belief” that SPS is believed to have conducted no investigation into the allegations raised by Mabins.

The Kickapoo Chiefs took on the West Plains Zizzers at Kickapoo on Friday, Sept. 30, 2022.

The petition says Mabins submitted a request to be allowed to transfer for reasons of hardship from Kickapoo for the well-being of Mabins, “to protect him from the discriminatory and hostile environment created at Kickapoo” and because of the school’s “failure to address the discriminatory and hostile environment as reported.” According to the petition, Mabins requested to transfer to Glendale, the school closest to his residence.

Acts of racism haven’t been uncommon at Kickapoo which has had notable public, unrelated incidents, in recent years. Notably, in March 2022, a boys’ restroom was graffitied with racial slurs and swastikas. In May 2019, a Kickapoo student posted a racist rant aimed at Black student-athletes in a 20-second Snapchat video that went viral online.

Allegations of an unfair eligibility process

According to the petition, Kickapoo responded to the transfer request by representing to MSHSAA that the transfer was because of athletic reasons and undue influence — “which they knew would trigger an automatic ineligibility ruling for Mabins, as planned and anticipated by Kickapoo.”

During the spring, the petition alleges that an investigation was conducted by an “investigative committee” consisting, in part of people with relationships to Kickapoo athletics while noting that the school was a direct competitor “even rivals” to Glendale’s football program.

The petition alleges “upon information and belief” that Kickapoo provided inaccurate information to the investigative committee and would rely on the inaccurate information and make a finding that denies Mabins’ eligibility to play at Glendale.

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On July 19, according to the petition, the executive director of MSHSAA used the “inaccurate information provided by Kickapoo” to determine that Mabins’ transfer was “due in part, to undue influence that Mabins was not eligible to participate in athletics at Glendale High School for the remainder of his high school career.” The petition said the opinion was substantially based on an application of MSHSAA by-laws that allow a student-athlete to receive instruction from a coach. The petition said the Mabins family appealed the opinion on the same day.

The petition alleges on Aug. 23, the Mabins provided evidence through personal testimony, the testimony of witnesses and through documentation that “completely, utterly refuted and proved wrong the inaccurate information provided by Kickapoo and showed it was false. On the same day, the petition said the appeals committee affirmed the decision of the MSHAA executive director finding Mabins ineligible.

What Mabins says Kickapoo misrepresented during the investigation

In the petition, Mabins alleged that misinformation provided by Kickapoo to MSHSAA included several videos saying he was working out with redacted names on Glendale’s football field.

The video, the petition said, was presumably taken in May 2021, during Mabins’ sophomore year. The petition alleged that MSHSAA believed Mabins was working out with an unidentified person. Mabins alleged that the video did not show the person and that the person had no part in the workouts.

Among other things, the petition alleged said Glendale failed to rent the fields on the dates of the videos and that Mabins was part of a “quarterback feeding system for Glendale” to all of which Mabins claimed to provide evidence saying those assertions were inaccurate.

The petition says multiple unnamed people attended the hearing before the appeals committee on behalf of SPS and that Kickapoo and the school district “presented no evidence at the hearing.”

According to the petition, Mabins believed there were acts of collusion between MSHSAA and Kickapoo as to his eligibility to play football as a student-athlete. The petition said Mabins believes that there was existed malice and fraud by MSHSAA in that the association failed to conduct a good faith investigation, failed to ask questions of Kickapoo to elicit truth and disregarded the accuracy of the information provided to MSHSAA in making its decision of Mabins’ eligibility of Mabins, in direct disregard of its by-laws.

“Mabins has and will suffer irreparable harm as to the decision of his eligibility in that he has and will miss games, practices, experiences, growth and the benefits of being a part of football as an interscholastic activity his senior year,” the petition says. “He will suffer the loss of opportunities for educational advancement by the attaining of college scholarships which, based on his performance and history, are likely if he plays football his senior year and Mabins has no adequate remedy at law against MSHSAA.”

What Mabins is seeking through the petition

In the petition, Mabins is seeking an emergency restraining order based on MSHSAA imposing a restriction on his eligibility to play football. For each reason listed, the petition says Mabins has an ascertainable right in need of immediate protection.

“Plaintiff prays that this court enter a temporary restraining order enjoining defendants from restricting Mabins from playing football and for such other further relief that this court deems proper under the circumstances,” the petition says.

The petition asks for the court to enter a preliminary injunction that would halt the restriction on Mabins’ eligibility, pending a hearing for a permanent injunction.

Wyatt D. Wheeler is a reporter and columnist with the Springfield News-Leader. You can contact him at 417-371-6987, by email at or X at @WyattWheeler_NL. He’s also the host of the weekly “Wyatt’s World Podcast” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other podcasting platforms.

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